The name Body Joy and I have had a tumultuous relationship.  That name came on a whim in 2005.  The sale of Dreizler Physical Therapy—name, logo, community standing —was imminent and I was suffering a hiccup moment.  An ego-busting realization that my so-called identity was soon to vanish.  I had no more than a fuzzy sense of what was next.  This domain name was free and felt like it proffered a ton of leeway. I took Body Joy and fashioned a logo to go with:

We walked into the county fair yesterday kids and grandkids in tow.  It was everything your senses can conjure up:  smell of corn dogs and human crowd-sweat, carnies barking above ferris wheel drone, duck races right next to Extreme Dog Tricks.  You get the picture.  We hunkered down into the damp fetid air of the animal barn.

Dreizler PT sold, I melted into refreshing incognito, released myself deeper and deeper into yoga and dance.  Taking all the precious time I needed at the end of my fifties to explore the broad story spectrum held in my body, your body, our bodies.  My dissatisfaction with the name Body Joy became increasingly vexatious with each passing year. There is body rage and body compassion and body fear and body love and body grief.  There is even body numb.  And so for quite some time I hated the domain name.  It felt too small, inaccurate, misleading.

At first there were the bunnies.  Angora soft sweet with their long ears laid back, noses aquiver, tender little paws. Right after the bunnies came the goats.  And I became lost in a sea of sensation.  My hands took on a life of their own, so drawn past the steel bars. I let those precious creatures sniffle my fingers and permit me the pleasure of scratching between emerging horns, stroking a cheek here, a rump there.  Feeling the mutuality.  The way this gentle caress provided the goat with pleasure and the way the feel of their fur and the observation of their response fed me back ten fold.  Body joy.
Over the last few years I’ve just let the name be what it is.  Its functional alliterative brevity is a safe harbor for the three services offered.  The newish logo—heart nested into a palm—settled me into it, since I know how a heart shelters the full spectrum of what we embody.

So it’s been interesting to feel myself kerplunked into the essence of Body Joy so clearly of late.  Octavia Raheem writes:

“Joy is an act of rebellion. And so is allowing ourselves to feel our grief.”

In the face of all we are being with right now cultivating joy is not a pleasant default.  Rather it feels revolutionary. Because joy and grief are two sides of the same coin.  A focus on pleasure and joy and laughter, the experience of reaching for the sky, this can free us, can allow us to fall back to earth and truly feel the rage and the fear and the sadness.  But if, in a misplaced sense of solidarity with tragedy, we let the depths of despair take joy as prisoner, we’re walking down a dangerous road.

When I came home I felt that same pleasure applying a thick coat of olive oil to my warm moist skin post- bath.  There it was as I snuggled down tween two clean sheets.  And there it was again rolling around on two soft release balls on the floor.  Before summer break, I’m teaching three more Wednesday nights at Clara June 1, 8, 15.  The  focus is on taking pleasure.  Taking: such a pro-active verb.  Not receiving, not seeking, not basking in.  Taking.  Because cultivating joy in this moment is an act of rebellion.  There will be music that invites us in taking pleasure in our god-given bodies in free form motion.  And in the break tween those two music waves some free form taking pleasure: the sensation of balls and rollers on skin. Just like petting those goats.  Maybe you feel called to join me in this act of rebellion.

❤️Bella

 

The essence of the phone call I took last week rang with familiarity.  Once again, a grateful being reports the influence dance practice wielded in shaping a life.  No matter that this person attended only a year or two, the last time a decade ago.  The experience had been of great import and they wanted me to know.  I’ve had the privilege of listening to countless stories of this flavor.  Most recently, someone who’d come a handful of times attributed remarkable shifts in destiny based on the experience.  Hardly seen this individual since.

Over twenty years, I’ve witnessed tons.  Folks who cycle in a bit, out a bit, then bounce back in again.  People who show up one time and then, referencing that one time, return a decade later.  Movers who are incredibly articulate about their process and those that never say a word.  Individuals who’ve heard about 5Rhythms forever, meant to come for years, finally arrived. Dancers who’ve been with me week after week for two decades.  People whose movement vocabulary transfigures right before my eyes and those who carry on without variation year in and year out.

And then there are the big events.  We watch new life gestate and then be born.  We’re present to hook-up joy and break-up pain.  The shock of illness followed by the empty absence, the heartache of loss.  Marriage transpires out there.  And so does divorce.  The festival of life plays out on that sacred floor.

In fact, the only thing that remains constant is the container itself, which for many years I held on my own.  Which was a phenomenal undertaking.  And just as extraordinary, in a whole different way?  The positively impactful adventure I’ve had the honor of sharing with Majica Alba: partnering in this community-holding endeavor. The dictionary defines community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  By frequent report, this is one of the top reasons people show up to dance.  That feeling of fellowship, of belonging, of sharing with like-minded/hearted.

Yet here’s the ironic seduction I’ve noticed over and over: the moment it begins to feel like our community has gelled, is somehow defined, an established group consistently showing up, the illusion this is makes itself known.  Invariably what follows is a transitional period of dissolve as a new grouping takes form in the next elusive shape.  It’s like the word community is a verb.  The pandemic has created its own dynamic bit of play with this amorphous community phenomenon.

And I am so down for it.  Every last bit of it.  Because I’m in such good company with those who’ve opened their hearts to me, shared the impactful nature of this practice.  There is a surprisingly powerful dose of influence thrown in when you’re the one who invariably shows up to make it happen. No matter what.  I’ve been out there hot on the heels of my own life festival events: birth, death, illness, major life upheavals.  All the reasons students might choose to cancel and just stay home.  But here’s what’s true: those hot-on-the-heels moments hold mega-weight. The most meaningful teaching/learning excavates personal vulnerability to illuminate the all-embracing universal. Who knew that my most penetrating insights would begin to pile up after I had the audacity to step in to teach?

And so, after a bit of perspective-inducing time off—picture above, last day camping at Sunset Beach—I’m back at out there.  If being part of community as a verb calls to you here are three ways I’d love to move with you:

  • Maybe you’ve always meant to dance.  Or used to and know it is time again.  Or always come and can’t wait.  Wednesday Waves at Clara—Taking More Pleasure—is happening until June 15.  And then we break until September.  Sunday Sweat Your Prayers in the garden happens through July 31 before that break.
  • Maybe you know you’ve always wanted to do yoga but think it’s not for you.  Or you’re curious about this rolling and releasing thing.  Or you’re always there every week and can’t wait.  Roll, Release, Align on line Friday 10:00.  This week’s focus?  That incredible diaphragm, the way it creates a bottom for the heart basket and is in 24/7 service to the breath.
  • Maybe you’ve got something bugging you in that shoulder or neck, that hip or low back, that knee or foot.  Maybe you want to learn how to tenderly and expertly care for it in a healing way.  That’s my thing!  Call me (916) 267-5478 and let’s talk about how we’ll make that happen.

That feeling of fellowship, of belonging, of sharing with like-minded/hearted.  That’s what it’s about…❤️Bella

Perched poised at her manual typewriter Washington Square, NYC, 2022:

Personal Poem 4 U, by donation
How could I not?  She looked to be the same age I was Golden Gate Park, SF, 1969.  And the Square was alive with the exact same busting out energy.  She gave me this:
And so I sat, surrounded by utter chaos, and penned this:

Poetry for This Grand Little Life

The Square brims with life force,
all peeps called to this promenade.
Pollen & gratitude season the air.
Skateboarder    Tap dancer   Stroller nanny:
hanging out—ecstasy granted.
I see the old rambling folk, too.
And I know I am one.

Barefoot woman flows smearing
grey chalk on stark paper.
Rail thin black man
a punctuation in staccato shape.
Precise, fluid repetition, homage to the ancestral.

Hawkers for pre-rolls & edibles, everybody hustling.
Dark dudes toking, teenagers huddling.
It’s a show-your-tits replay,
a fashion mandate sparked by chimes of freedom.

Microcosm of the world
every hue & life span & he/she
gathered in the communal
celebrating congruent aliveness
to the beat of bass drum chi.

Each & every one of us wrenched
from hum-drum to Covid
two years wrestling with the norm.

And now…here…spring 2022
this desperate grasp for what used to be
side by side with ephemeral grace,
this present lightness,
this carpe diem wonder
moments fleeting as memory.

Each & every one of us
emerging, blinking, yearning
so dubious of what dormancy has incubated
so fucking ready to revel in it.

I put that pen down, carpe-diemed, danced to that band…the trombone was incredible, the place was on fire, if joy was edible you’d be stuffed with it.

Home today…already dipping into pungent memories of Manhattan, a city that has held my urban heart captive since I was a little kid.  Back just in time for Roll, Release, Align tomorrow at 10:00am.  Focused on where that heart lives—the rib cage.  Let your hands rest there a moment.  Feel the breath.  Feel the heartbeat.  Celebrate you aliveness.  Gabrielle energy was abundant in those city streets, so many memories of dancing right there. Sunday morning I’ll be playing tunes out in that garden: Sweat Your Prayers.  Always ready to move with the peeps in the pulse of this west coast urban heart.  Wednesday Waves is back live at Clara—five sessions of Taking More Pleasure before we break ’til September.

Let’s move together, create moments as fleeting as memory….❤️Bella

The smell of Grandma’s kitchen lives on in my cells.  The slope of her spine bending to peer in the oven. Her low drone hum as she mixed and bustled and served.  But despite being a grateful recipient of my own Mom’s inherited flair for cooking, I embarked upon adulthood with a specialty in chocolate chip cookies.  Only.  I remember calling home, scribbling marinara sauce details on a torn grocery bag. Which remained taped to the kitchen wall, often referred to as I floundered through that initiation year.  But apparently the cooking thing ran in my blood.  And when I’m fed by my son or daughter…well it is so gratifying to feel how it has been passed through.

When my mom died I inherited Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  But I never cracked it open.  Too immersed in Diet for a Small Planet and Laurel’s Kitchen.  Who cared about soufflés and coq au vin and all that butter and cream?   I had no idea what a seminal influence Julia Child was until her screen story fascinated me.  First via Julie & Julia, then the documentary Julia and now the current HBO series also named Julia. Not to mention this always-gets-me-laughing 1978 Saturday Night Live parody by Dan Akroyd.

All kidding aside, in her late 30s, living in Paris, Julia Child experienced  “an opening up of the soul and spirit ” after a meal of oysters and sole meuniere and good French wine.  By the age of forty, squarely in mid-life, she graduated from the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Over the next few years she studied, taught cooking and partnered to create a cookbook that Americans could digest.  When her book was published in 1961 the typical American homemaker was caught in the thrall of convenience.

Canned tomato soup and lima beans, frozen Salisbury steak T.V. dinners and Swanson’s chicken pot pies, Wonder bread and Miracle Whip.  You get my drift.  I totally remember gagging on canned asparagus served with a dollop of Hellmans and canned pimentos.  These products were in my home right alongside that homemade marinara sauce and other delectables made from scratch.

Some would argue Child’s influence carried us from the non-chalance of 1950’s American cuisine to our current obsession with all things gourmet and local and organic and fusion.  I have eaten in many places around the world and always appreciate coming home to the freshness and inventiveness of California cuisine. It definitely was not like this fifty years ago.

In 1963 there was no such thing as a TV cooking show.  In fact Julia didn’t even own a television.   She just she had utter confidence in the concept, deep unshakeable knowing that it would prove to be the best way to connect with her audience.  She had to maneuver her way through a cadre of male doubters to manifest this belief.  She never waivered, even funded the first episodes herself.  As ground breaking as all this was, what really captivated me was the juxtaposition of her television show success with her stage of life.  When The French Chef finally hit the airwaves Julia was 51 and smack dab in the midst of hot flashing menopause.

The physical symptoms accompanying the “change” get way more airplay than the more subtle aspects.  A lifetime of biological programming to procreate and rear children does not go away with a shift in hormonal status.  For many, the spirit of creation re-invents itself.  The so-called empty nest can unleash inspiration that has been patiently or not so patiently waiting in the wings for it’s moment.

This was surely my experience.  I flailed for a couple years after kids left the nest.  Comfy home, good relationship, thriving business.  But all this sad poetry, a depressing dissatisfaction, a what’s-the-point attitude.  At the age of 52, in the most synchronous random fashion, I fell into the dance.  It was like a portal awaiting my entrance.  And though it was quite awhile before I realized it, chapter two had finally begun.  Without reservation, I danced my way through menopause, barely knew it was happening until it was over.  And with utter clarity, I sold that thriving business and started over.

So I am head over heels in love with Julia, rooting for her every step of the way in this series that does not complete until May 5.  I’m sure it helps that I absolutely adore creating just about anything in the kitchen.  But really, this is this story of a woman who goes all the way in the second half of her life.  I feel lifted on her wings.

❤️Bella

Align.  Align with.  Be in alignment.  This word has such physical footing—arrangement in a straight line or in correct or appropriate relative positions.  The deeper definition radiates from that foundational physicality.  B.K.S. Iyengar, credited with popularizing yoga, first in India and then around the world, was certainly on to this notion.

“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered
the alignment of my mind, self and intelligence.”

I’m taking a step back here, maybe you want to as well. I’m considering the lifelong physical journey of my own body.  This quote just resonates.  Completely.  So many childhood experiences knocked me off center and then delivered me to young adulthood.  Yet even on the brink, such a ripe moment for potential awakening, alignment remained a physical therapy plumb line connecting ankle bone, hip, shoulder, ear.  By the age of 25, left neck pain kept pulling me out of alignment.  Relentlessly, more than ten years.  The connection of this physical pain to the pain in my heart was somewhere on a way back burner, obscured by the tasks of launching into middle age.  When I turned 34, shortly after my mother’s death, slow healing began. Only in retrospect do I wonder about that connection.

The pull out of healthy physical alignment in tandem with a gritty bundle of unresolved feelings kept this suffering in motion for decades.  Years of physical turmoil: shoulder issues, low back pain, foot owies.  A body part would heal, there would be a period of relative calm and then another trouble would crop up.  It was the most intense, 40 year post-graduate training a physical therapist could undergo.  Learning from the inside out.  Incredible.  Not recommended. Not regretted.

Twenty plus years ago I began to dance again.  Gabrielle Roth had stuff to say about being out of alignment.  She called it trizophrenia – thinking one thing, feeling entirely something else and then acting in a way that had nothing to do with either.  I immersed myself in a practice that ruthlessly called me out when my actions did not jive with my feelings and thoughts.  Of course, as per usual, awakening did not lead to immediate cessation of suffering.  In fact ten years ago left hip pain completely took me for a ride.  This wake up scream was so loud, there was no choice but utter surrender.

I had to discover new ways of molding my body toward alignment.  And on a barely conscious parallel track I was creatively finding ways to spend time with my father.  My heart just kind of melted into a forgiveness I never considered possible.  I sat bedside with him as he passed two years ago and realized I had been physically pain free for quite a long spell. This time, with his passage, the coincidence of aligned healing was not lost on me.

“Ecstasy is an egoless, timeless state of being, a state of total alignment and unity of body, heart, mind, soul, spirit.”  Gabrielle Roth

Of course, who knows what the future holds?  My 72nd birthday, a couple weeks away, I’ve never felt better.  My body is fluid and free…my heart is love-filled, my mind quietly brims with wonder. Doing the work in the world I was meant to do.  Spirit unfalteringly turned toward this final chapter.

The re-name of Essentials to Roll, Release, Align is not random.  Whether it’s in class or in treatment, we roll in pleasure-filled ways to release what holds us in check.  And then we align.  Powerfully.  And without overtly teaching spiritual alignment per se, the deeper definition of alignment radiates from that foundational physicality.  It always has.  It’s just taken me years to feel it so completely.

Let’s align together…❤️Bella

I laid in funky dread bed this morning, pulled comfort over my head, delayed the rise. Coffee/newspaper (see headlines above) just confirmed the everything-feels-broken sensibility.  And I’m old enough to know it has felt this bad before.  Hasn’t it?  And yet right here, right now, my feet covered in felted wool, nested into this oak hardwood.  My hips sunk deep into a red cushion, the miracle of light rain falling on this teeny urban acreage…breathing.  Still.

And ruminating on the value of my work in the world, when so many same-age friends have laid the work-a-day world to rest.  Beneath the covers I let myself bathe in memory.  And 2005 arose, the year I un-tethered from hard-core work, an attachment that captures so many of us in middle age. The sale of Dreizler Physical Therapy was imminent and I was seeking a name, an identity to facilitate a graceful pivot into what was next.

Except I really didn’t know what that was.  I only knew it was about healing, about bodies in motion, about dance, about yoga.  In a whimsical moment, without much thought, the name Body Joy was coined.  Despite the fact I’ve gone in and out of feeling it as a good descriptor, it has stuck as the umbrella name for three offerings: yoga, dance, physical therapy.

So it fascinates me that I’m back to the Joy part.  A respite, a re-fuel, a release from the everything-feels-broken sensibility.  Sacred moments to touch inside and feel our wholeness/holiness.  Revel in the glory of sensation, luxuriate in breath, take pleasure in the miracle of a body in motion.   We carry so much in our backpacks—personal, communal, global.  It’s heavy.  And each time we gather there’s an opportunity to leave those relentless burdens at the door—on the mat, the treatment table, the dance floor.

Those backpacks don’t go away.  We pick them right back up as we leave.  And sometimes, as they say on the airlines, the contents may have shifted during flight.  So here are ways you can shift the contents, participate in some body joy.   Take respite.  Re-fuel.  Luxuriate.  I’m gonna keep offering what I feel we need. Put your backpack down for a bit:

  • Wilbur Hot Springs  April 25-27:  Ninety minutes from Sac, I’ve been Wilbur soaking for years, always dreamed of teaching on the outdoor deck.  This is my second gig.   Rollers and balls come with me for Roll, Release, Align; mats already there for you.  Release is such a natural pairing with the hot soaks.  All class sessions included with your day pass or overnight stay.  Don’t wait; summer is heat/smoke season.  Class times      Wilbur day use/ overnight reservations

 

  • Taking Pleasure Wednesday Waves April 6, 13, 20, 27:  Seizing the moment to dance together indoors at Clara again.  Four sessions utterly dedicated to luxuriating in the pleasure of being in motion. This is an invitation to move toward ease, tenderness, softening…fun.  Pre-enroll in all four or drop in to any one.

 

  • Roll, Release, Align Friday mornings, on line:   The current chakra map exploration delivered me to this pleasure focus.  Really, this practice is so chakra 1 & 2 derivative.  An utter focus on the body, feeling weight, the affect of gravity, connection to earth AND noticing the juiciness, the entangled dance of sensation and emotion arising.  Loving the return to integrating more yin time in combination with uber-soft release.  Come feel.

 

  • Moving Outside April 14 & 21:  celebrate Spring’s emergence in a large garden on the Sacramento River. Grace of earth and sun, sky and wind; feel the lay of our unique home land.  Co-teaching with Judy Tretheway, proprietess of this property.  We go way back, two elders holding decades of embodied wisdom—Qigong, 5Rhythms, chakras, orienting, forest bathing—guiding a journey through dance, movement, connection and breath, moving with the great outdoors. Come feel.

 

  • Sweat Your Prayers Sunday mornings, live: There is just nothing else like this.  Over two years we have dance-pounded the earth into a natural floor.  Lately I’ve been barefoot out there and it is total pleasure.

So maybe you feel called to create some sacred moments, touch inside, feel your wholeness/holiness.  Leave those relentless burdens at the door.  You never know…the contents may shift during flight…..

💞Bella

Essentials: the body of work blending ball and roller release with core activation and stretching.  Body self-care that supports doing everything we care about.  It was named Essentials way before the emergence of pandemic-related essential workers and essential services.  And, exactly two years ago, in a moment of pandemic-induced fluidity, the name held as I pivoted to on-line sessions.

For two years now, nearly every Friday morning, from my home studio, alone together, we do the essentials.  In the last year I added a monthly live class on my backyard deck.  And I have my eyes on neighborhood space for maybe possibly tentatively semi-regular in person teaching.  See what I mean about pandemic-induced fluidity?

But this name—Essentials.  I know what it means.  Those who practice appreciate the meaning in the most embodied way.  But I’m feeling it’s time for a re-name. A title that calls it what it is.  Instead of one that leaves you wondering.  So here it is: Roll, Release, Align.  We roll to release.  And that release opens the door for strength and length.  And that, my friends, is what delivers optimal alignment.

Why alignment is crucial could be a whole ‘nother newsletter.  But you might just notice the relationship of your head and spine and hips as you read.  Your spine is so happy to rise straight up out of hips while your head floats effortlessly above.  That’s why we roll and release to align.

I’ve been up to this magic for a long time.  But how the magic happens is so fluid (that word again). A continual creation in progress.  Recently two new elements emerged big time: yin release and roller stability.  Two practices that share three intriguing qualities: fun, pleasure, stillness.  Because incorporating more fun, more pleasure, more stillness is exactly the medicine I need.  And I’ve always trusted my own sensibility to move the practice in uncharted directions.  Take a peek:

What’s new on the mat always magically manifests in dance and on the treatment table.  And vice versa; it’s an intimate triangle.  I have 30 of these soft 4 inch balls that I’ve slowly been incorporating in one-on-one treatment.  Especially for the more tender among us.  Wanna dance with them? Because they offer such immediate pleasure, we’ll use them a bit in Taking Pleasure, the upcoming Wednesday Waves mini-workshop at Clara.  You can pre-enroll to save/commit or drop in to any one session.  Take note.  April only, folks.  Stay fluid…total mystery about anything beyond April.  Seize this hopeful moment and move with us to explore all things pleasure.  And I’ll be up front this Sunday, live in the garden just in case your pleasure quotient needs max attention.

Fun, pleasure, stillness, magic…maybe it’s time to make a move toward.
❤️Bella

How’s your pleasure quotient lately?  Can you feel how unrelenting stress has emptied our collective cups?  So you’ll notice a recurrent theme rolling in my mat classes: “This is about pleasure…move toward it.  Nothing we do here hurts. Feel enjoyment.  Let this be juicy.  Have fun with this.  Attend to that dormant kid, the playful curious one. Follow the impulse, the whim, the instinct.  The most intensity would be ‘hurts so good’.  Be gentle with yourself.  Move into breath and relaxation.  Take pleasure.”  You get the gist.

Pleasure deprivation is acute these days but this cushiony orientation to self-release has been emerging for years.  Twenty years ago, fresh out of the clinical setting, I had students and patients using dense black rollers and spiky blue pokey balls.  I let my own experience with uber-firm pressure for fascia release be my guide. Yet I was often showing people how to decrease the pressure so they could get started.

After awhile, I got it. I now offer three different density rollers and ditched Mr. Spiky a while ago.  Except for the hard core who still totally “hurt good” love him.  The double tennis balls are pressure-satisfactory for most.  Especially when I modify using two sets at once and always begin with the most cushy techniques.  I’m not sure why I was so slow to understand this basic fact: when something is pleasurable we move toward it and tend to repeat it.  How many years of rut-building “it has to be hard if it’s going to work” does it take before we try something different?  I know I am not alone.

Guess what?  Now I’m softening even more.  As of April 1, to fully participate in Friday Essentials, I’m recommending Smooth Balls in addition to roller and tennis balls.  Releasing into a soft surface is a wait-for-it experience.  Gentle, quietly pleasurable.  Quite different than a firm surface.  Release into density is a go-for-it adventure.  We dive in and the pressure “hurts so good”.  Firm or soft, we pause and breathe and await the satisfying sensation of release. One is not better than the other.  I’m just inviting a bit more time on the soft side.  Especially in the armpits, belly and hips.  Come feel.

And what has inspired this slow unraveling?  Perspective often reveals truth impossible to glimpse in the midst.  How twenty years of dance has been slowly chipping away old stories, programming about struggle and fixing and working hard.  Sometimes I hear Gabrielle’s voice so loud and clear:  “You didn’t think this was about dance, did you?”  The dance is so seductive and, for me, the first ten years of practice were totally about dance.  Incredible dedicated hours, weeks, months exploring and working 5Rhythms.  But the tables have turned.

During the last decade, I gave up working the rhythms and instead, the rhythms have been working me. They’ve become a subconscious lens through which I sense and feel and look and know.  Softening is the most obvious permeating way the rhythms have worked me over.  On so many levels.  So it’s actually no surprise that my mat and table work have been softening, too.  The serendipitous way 5Rhythms showed up in my life was perhaps part of the Big Plan.  On a mission to wrench me out of a tough way of living and working and being.  Pointing my compass toward easy and tender, pleasureful soft.  Who knew? Just like Ms. G. said…maybe it was never really about dance.

This is an invitation to soften, take pleasure.  Order a pair of those balls.  You’ll know what to do with them.  Come to class and feel.  I’ll offer an intro class in a bit and add to the Video Intro Series .  And we are LIVE back at Clara on the soft oak dance floor, four Wednesdays in April with the same theme: Taking Pleasure.  Let’s fill our collective cups.

This from the lips of Anodea Judith, sussing out  second chakra qualities in her groundbreaking book Eastern Body, Western Mind:

“By moving the body, we build muscle tissue, increase circulation, stimulate nerve endings, and generally enhance
the body’s flexibility and aliveness.
The flow of pleasure and excitation through the nervous system
bathes the organism in sensation and awareness.
Movement has its own pleasure.”
Let’s move together and take some pleasure…❤️Bella

Loss.  Again.  I know you know.  This time a friend, colleague, a soul sister.  You and I, we live in the midst of a great turning.  And, as per usual, some of us are dying.  But these transitions, the losses coming down in these legendary times, somehow they feel different. Cloaked as they are in an urgent layer of meaning. Each one a wake-up scream in the night.  Maybe because she was too young (and what age is acceptable?) and maybe because it happened too suddenly (and what is enough preparatory time?)…this one rocked the community in a way that would have surprised her.

My friend was of Mexican descent.  Years ago, during 5Rhythms teacher training, she swept me into the ritual around Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.  In Mexico, the belief is that people die three deaths.  The first death occurs with that last exhale.  The second when the body returns to the earth.  The final death is a future moment, when your name is spoken for the last time.  If you haven’t seen the totally poignant animated film Coco…well, highly recommended.

Mati…her name has been spoken many times in the last ten days.  Her final death is held off for some future moment.  She was a fertile fountain of ideas, dreams, visions.  Had a weaving way about her, a way of drawing people together.  I’ve been taking calls from people around the world, folks I haven’t spoken with in a long time, affirmation of the tapestry she wove.  When the pandemic blew us all apart, she created ways to hold our teaching community together.   She saw a need, stepped up, fashioned a container for holding.  Bless her heart.

Saturday morning I moved with Mati’s students, her friends, her family, other teachers during a Zoom dance memorial service. Here’s what touched me the most.  Her husband and two brothers attended.  Each one spoke of what it meant to spend 90 minutes witnessing dancers honor their beloved in dedicated practice.  They were blown away.  Not until she died were they able to be present with and have a fuller sense about a passion that was so fundamental to who she was.  To have a deep connection to what her devotion was about.

And, as per usual, death leaves its timeless calling card.  Let’s not wait, folks.  The people who you love….there is no time like the present to be intrigued with their unique flavor of human being. What really moves them? What are their fascinations, their dreams, their fears, their struggles?  Bearing witness happens when we not only see each other, but see our humanity reflected in this other being.  Death invites us to wake up and really look.  Be with.  Appreciate.  Want the simplest of questions to ask?  “How is your heart right now?”   Feel in…what is the one thing you can do today to fall in love more deeply?  Please do it.  Tomorrow is not promised.

❤️Bella

 

Mr. Foam Roller dropped a wisdom bomb on me.  And here’s one thing I know about wisdom: it’s no static thing.  It’s not a place we arrive.  It’s dynamic, ever-changing, fluid.  So here’s how the bomb dropped.  Laying on this roller, head one end, tail the other, that’s how I routinely taught core stability…for years.  Go ahead.  Hop up.  Just try keeping your balance sans support of hands and feet. You’ll quickly feel what I was up to.  But over time I became frustrated with how you can kinda cheat your way through this technique.  The big wobble of parallel roller work obscures a lot of subtlety.  It began to feel like a total bypass of breath and the depth and delicacy of sensation. I was curious about stability subtleties so I completely dropped this practice.

Ditched it and spent twenty years investigating the back-story, how to induct core stability in the most softly discerning ways.  Muted attunement deep inside.   Fascinating for geeks, a bit boring for the rest of the world.  A couple months ago, after two decades of abstention, on a whim, I hopped back on to feel what I could feel.  Oh my gosh.  The subtlety had been there all along.  I just wasn’t fine-tuned enough to sense it.  And this little story goes to the heart of how we land in wisdom bomb land.

First I needed to make the leap from ignorance to awareness.  Frustration is a great indicator something needs to shift. I made the leap the day I ditched the roller.  That move away from old habit toward the unknown propelled me into new learning realms.  Books, classes, teachers…yes. Knowledge is important. But then I had to filter that new information through my own experience.  Listening in, tracking, reflecting.  Paying attention to how my own body, heart, mind responded, resisted, transformed.  Lots of trial and error.  The comprehension had to mesh with real life experience before understanding and integration could arise.

Worthy wisdom isn’t born overnight.  In this case it took twenty years.  Knowledge and experience had to marinate in the crucible of time.  It’s still a total mystery what called me back to that old habit a couple months ago. But hop up I did and, in an instant, I felt everything I’d been missing back in 2000.  The response of patients and students has been phenomenal. This moves stability out of the world of geek-dom and into the world of playful fun. Really.  And the roller is actually a better hands on instructor than I can be…especially on Zoom.  Articulating this practice continues to evolve and is a beautiful example of how dynamic true wisdom is.  It is so not a static thing.

I’ve been teaching a maturing version of loose, long and strong for thirty years now.  It was utterly fulfilling to usher 10 new students into the world of Essentials via the just completed series.  Missed it?  Want some roller hopping?  It’s in the Video Library.  Want some wisdom?  Digest the knowledge encapsulated in those four classes; let it meet and inform your unique experience. After it marinates in the crucible of time, a big chunk of body wisdom will be yours.  Want it tailored to fit?  I just saw a patient this afternoon who just completed the series.  Over the past month she’s been on her mat trying different pieces on.  Today we made a cell phone video of the most important thirty minutes for her unique body.  She is excited to come to Essentials this Friday for the first time.  I know it is just the support she needs to stay motivated the rest of the week.

Wanna play?

  • Essentials 10-11:30 Friday: This week we complete our anatomical exploration of spine.  Next week we begin a seven week journey through energetic spine, travelling the chakras.  We roll, we tone, we stretch.  We laugh, listen to music, commune.  It’s good warm pleasure.
  • Moving Outside 12:30-2:00 Thursday March 3, 10, 17: celebrate Spring in a big garden on the Sacramento River. Practice outdoors graced by earth and sun, sky and wind, feeling the lay of our unique home land. Co-teaching with Judy Tretheway, proprietess of this property.  Judy and I go way back, two elders with many decades of embodied wisdom bombs—Qigong, 5Rhythms, orienting, forest bathing.  Together we’ll guide this experience with dance, movement, connection and breath, moving with the great outdoors. Come feel.
  • Sweat Your Prayers 10-noon EVERY Sunday: out on this same Sacramento River land.  I’m either teaching or out there dancing.  This community is incredibly welcoming.  Get out in nature.  It will do you so much good.
  • Physical Therapy: my studio or Zoom in your room.  The wisdom bombs created over fifty years fall easily in this fertile field.  Bring whatever challenges you and together we’ll find our way through.

There’s so much that connects each of these offerings.  But that piece—  listening in, tracking, reflecting—the supported opportunity to do just that is at the bottom of it all. I’ll keep holding that piece for us.  It is my offering.  ❤️Bella